Position: Senior Researcher
Salary: Our salaries are competitive with peer organizations like private foundations, academic institutions/think tanks, and the World Bank, and are benchmarked for the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where GiveWell is based. Pay starts at $175,000 but may be higher based on an individual’s experience and capabilities. We adjust the salaries of remote employees based on the federal geographic location adjustment database.
Benefits: Read about the benefits we offer here.
Location: Oakland, California (preferred). Full-time remote work is possible. As a general rule, requests to work remotely will usually be allowed for locations that are within three hours of the Pacific Time Zone. Exceptions to the time zone rule may be made in rare circumstances.
Flexibility: We support and encourage flexible working, including flexible hours, regular work-from-home days, part-time work patterns, and periodic remote-work stints. The majority of our staff, including senior management, work flexibly in one way or another.
Visa sponsorship: We can sponsor work visas. However, please be aware that processing times can be much longer than usual right now and are subject to specific country circumstances. Currently, international remote work is possible.
Timeline: We're reviewing applications on a rolling basis.
GiveWell is motivated by the simple question: how can we do as much good as possible?
In our efforts to answer this question, our researchers search for and recommend outstanding philanthropic giving opportunities. We focus on global health and poverty alleviation programs in the lowest-income parts of the world because that is where we've found we can have the greatest impact, according to our criteria.
We direct funding to outstanding giving opportunities in two main ways:
- Our recommended charities. We rigorously vet and recommend a short list of top charities that meet our criteria of being evidence-backed, cost-effective, transparent, and in need of more funding. Our nine current top charities work on death-averting (malaria chemoprevention, antimalarial nets, vaccine incentivization, and vitamin A supplementation) and life-improving (providing cash transfers and deworming medication) programs.
We continuously review our giving recommendations, and this analysis is available, for free, on our website. Based on our recommendations, donors have given more than $800 million to our recommended programs since our founding in 2007. In 2020 alone, GiveWell donors contributed more than $170 million to our recommendations, which we estimate will avert between 29,000 and 48,000 deaths and provide parasitic worm treatments for over 12 million children.
- Grants to promising opportunities. GiveWell also recommends grants to projects whose impact is less directly measurable but might be even greater than that of our recommended charities. Past grants include support for an initiative to improve the uptake and implementation by governments of evidence-based policy and the first randomized controlled trial of mask-wearing in a low-income country to increase mask use and prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Going forward, we expect to broaden the scope of what we consider funding. We will remain driven by our search for funding opportunities that can save or improve lives the most.
Senior Researchers at GiveWell are the intellectual leaders who guide our exploration of how we can do the most good. In this role, you will be responsible for finding, researching, and ultimately recommending high-impact or potentially high-impact giving opportunities. As part of a small team, you will be a significant contributor to our decisions about how hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent with the goal of saving and improving the lives of people living in the lowest-income communities in the world.
You will be a leader on our research team, conducting research to help us identify outstanding programs to recommend. Examples of questions Senior Researchers have worked on recently include:
- What is the impact of building footbridges in rural communities?
- What should we believe about the impacts of improved water quality on all-cause mortality?
- How can we model the general equilibrium effects of cash transfers?
In addition to the core work of identifying outstanding programs, Senior Researchers own messy and complicated questions that inform our analysis, such as:
- How can we improve our approach to cost-effectiveness modeling?
- How should we use pooled impact estimates from a highly heterogeneous evidence base?
- How should we prioritize programs that reduce poverty relative to programs that reduce deaths? What is the moral value of each outcome?
- How should we think about the opportunity cost of other actors’ contributions to programs we fund?
Our Senior Researchers leverage a combination of critical research review and synthesis, empirical analysis, modeling, logical reasoning, and good judgment in order to make practical recommendations on a topic.
Senior Researchers typically have a quantitatively oriented advanced degree and/or substantive relevant experience. They also have the intellectual flexibility to tackle a wide range of questions such as those listed above.
We expect you will be characterized by many of the below qualities. We encourage you to apply if you would use the majority of these characteristics to describe yourself:
- You are passionate about helping improve global health and alleviate global poverty as much as possible.
- You are highly skilled at critically analyzing and synthesizing empirical research and understanding how a body of evidence may apply to real-world problems.
- You are able to plan an efficient approach to exploring complicated questions, including identifying and focusing on the most decision-relevant aspects of a project.
- You consider the big picture, asking questions like: is this project appropriately formulated and the best use of my time? What is GiveWell getting wrong in our research?
- You clearly communicate what you believe and why, as well as what you are uncertain about.
- You ask a lot of questions, and are curious, rather than defensive, when interrogating your own or others’ work.
- You are able to execute research that holds up under scrutiny from others and over time.
- You are respectful, effective, and efficient in your interactions with colleagues as well as external parties.
Confidence can sometimes hold us back from applying for a job. Here’s a secret: there's no such thing as a "perfect" candidate. GiveWell is looking for exceptional people who want to make a positive impact through their work and help create an organization where everyone can thrive. So whatever background you bring with you, please apply if this role would make you excited to come to work every day.
Apply here: http://www.givewell.org/about/jobs/research-application. We only accept applications through our website. You may also send additional materials, such as a letter of recommendation, to support your application; this is not required. Please send those materials to email@example.com.
We plan to respond to all submissions. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at email@example.com.
As part of our dedication to the diversity of our staff, GiveWell is committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and to making employment decisions based on merit and value. We are committed to complying with all federal, state, and local laws providing Equal Employment Opportunities, as well as all laws related to terms and conditions of employment. We desire to maintain a work environment free of harassment or discrimination due to sex, race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, citizenship, physical or mental disability, marital status, familial status, ethnicity, ancestry, status as a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, age, or any other status protected by federal, state, or local laws.
We will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.